Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many transport companies are diversifying, taking on new freight tasks and routes. These changes are an important business opportunity but, as with any change, risk management is an important part of management’s responsibilities.
When drivers have a freight task change thanks to a new contract or opportunity they may need specific training to update their skills and minimize the risk of an incident or injury. When considering such training, it’s important to think about the following:
- Freight task and site-specific training requirements: including any mandated by regulation or the site operator.
- OH&S requirements for specific freight tasks: such as for working at height, or for climbing up and down from rigids, trailers or prime Movers.
- Site-specific requirements: such as Loading Unloading Exclusion Zones (LUEZ), or direction of travel in depots.
- Load restraint training: for tasks requiring freight to be restrained the driver, with reference to the Load Restraint Guide.
As always, err on the side of caution, training and safety: if you (or your drivers) are unsure whether instruction is needed, assume that it is.
Freight task changes in practice: general freight to local delivery
There are a few factors to consider but it mostly comes down to understanding your drivers’ skills, the new task requirements, and using some common sense. Consider the example of a driver changing from general freight to local supermarket delivery:
A. Changes to prime mover operations and procedures:
- Cabin controls: location and operation
- Gearbox and retarder: application and operation
- Turning circle and trailer swept path: if changing from long wheelbase (bonneted) to short (cab over
B. Trailer type:
- Refrigerated: temperature observation
- Tailgate loaders:
- Training for safe operation of tailgate loader
- Training for safe operation of pallet jacks (manual and electric)
C. Route planning:
- Traffic management plan: for road access and site access to supermarket:
- Travel time restrictions on certain roads
- One-way streets
- Time restrictions for unloading in some supermarkets
- Public safety requirements
- Do you need a spotter when reversing into unloading dock or area?
- Ask the driver if this is the freight task and hours they wish to work
- Check the driver has the right Driver License Class endorsed on their license
- Check the driver has the appropriate DG or Forklift license if required
- Check the driver’s literacy and numeracy skills are adequate for task documentation
- Confirm the driver is physically fit to do the task (climbing, bending, wheel changing)
- Perform a dry run of the task to assess what training the driver needs
- Train the driver to the required standard if the dry run highlights skill shortages
- Reassess driver skills after a pre-determined time e.g. three weeks
Load Restraint Guide
Heavy vehicle rollover prevention program